What taxpayers get for $4.5 billion

Why the Zumwalt-Class Destroyers failed to meet the Navy’s expectations…


OK. They are bigger than they look. 610 feet long.

In January 2019, the Navy (commissioned) its second hi-tech Zumwalt-class stealth destroyer, the USS Michael Monsoor. The third and last, USS Lyndon B. Johnson was launched…December 2018 and will be commissioned in 2022…

…The Zumwalt’s Advanced Gun System didn’t…work that well, with two-thirds the forecast range (around 70 miles). Furthermore, its rocket-boosted LRLAP GPS-guided shells cost $800,000 dollars each—nearly as expensive as more precise, longer-range and harder-hitting cruise missiles. The Navy finally canceled the insanely expensive munitions, leaving the Zumwalt with two huge guns it can’t fire…

What were merely three DDG-1000s good for, despite their nifty stealth features and propulsion? The advanced destroyers lacked ammunition for their guns, anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine torpedoes, and long-range area-air defense missiles. Furthermore, the Zumwalt had fewer cells to pack land-attack missiles than Arleigh-Burke destroyers (96), Ticonderoga-class cruisers (122), or Ohio-class cruise-missile submarines (144)—all of which were cheaper, and the last of which is stealthier.

But, hey, the three only cost US taxpayers $13.5 billion. Chump change for a failed experiment…the way our military is run.

Massive, unregulated source of plastic pollution you never heard of…


Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP

A nurdle is a bead of pure plastic. It is the basic building block of almost all plastic products, like some sort of synthetic ore; their creators call them “pre-production plastic pellets” or “resins.” Every year, trillions of nurdles are produced from natural gas or oil, shipped to factories around the world, and then melted and poured into molds that churn out water bottles and sewage pipes and steering wheels and the millions of other plastic products we use every day. You are almost certainly reading this story on a device that is part nurdle….

An estimated 200,000 metric tons of nurdles make their way into oceans annually. The beads are extremely light, around 20 milligrams each. That means, under current conditions, approximately 10 trillion nurdles are projected to infiltrate marine ecosystems around the world each year.

Hundreds of fish species — including some eaten by humans — and at least 80 kinds of seabirds eat plastics. Researchers are concerned that animals that eat nurdles risk blocking their digestive tracts and starving to death. Just as concerning is what happens to the beads in the long term: Like most plastics, they do not biodegrade, but they do deteriorate over time, forming the second-largest source of ocean microplastics after tire dust. (A nurdle, being less than 5 millimeters around, is a microplastic from the moment of its creation, something also known as a primary microplastic.)

There’s much we still don’t know about how plastics can harm the bodies of humans and animals alike, but recent research has shown that microplastics can be found in the blood of as much as 80 percent of all adult humans, where they can potentially harm our cells. We may not eat the plastic beads ourselves, but nurdles seem to have a way of finding their way back to us.

You could always write to your Congress-critter and complain. If they fit the average profile, they might ask you to explain what a nurdle is. The only reason I know is because I spent a few strange years – long ago and far away – running a production quality lab for a plastics manufacturer. :-]

No doubt, your elected buddy is on the donations payroll from plastic manufacturers who offer a helluva lot more to their re-election than you or I do.

World’s #3 shipping company says “No more plastic waste aboard our ships!”

Letter to their customers

As part of its renewed commitment towards more sustainable trade, the CMA CGM Group announced its decision to no longer carry plastic waste on our ships as of June 1st, 2022. This landmark decision in the shipping industry will help protect the oceans and biodiversity.

To enforce this commitment while maintaining sufficient anticipation buffer for our customers, we kindly inform you that no plastic waste will be loaded onboard CMA CGM Group’s vessels as from April 15th, 2022. Plastic waste is identified under HS code category 3915.

To ensure effectiveness of this measure, we have set up ban on HS code for commodities concerned in our booking system. Please note that false declarations on the nature of the goods will lead to a blacklisting of the incriminated entity.

Do not hesitate to contact you usual CMA CGM sales representative for more information.

Thank you for acting with us today for a more sustainable future.

I say “Bravo!” Thank you very much.

Where is everyone?

That bottom bar in each infographic is children up to 4 years old. That portion will diminish ~38%. The infographic below these (switchable) two is interesting in how the researchers foresee response to modern alternatives – by country. They expect the GOUSA to continue to grow, albeit minimally. They expect the population of China to drop ~48%, Brazil ~28%, Japan ~58%. Consider what that means to per capita income, the overall stress on infrastructure, many other parameters.

And it’s only a beginning.

Key commercial border crossing in Texas ready to double in size


Mahoney/Freightwaves

Since it opened in 1994, the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge has been one of the busiest commercial ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexico border. The city of Pharr, which operates the bridge, has reshaped itself over the decades from a small, dusty agricultural community into a booming border trade hub.

Trade at the South Texas border port totaled a record $42 billion in 2021 — a number that could skyrocket in the near future, as the city has been working on a project to build a second commercial bridge alongside the existing one.

“We are expanding because it’s a need, the demand is there,” Luis Bazán, director of the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, told FreightWaves. “Even through the pandemic, crossings skyrocketed in Pharr. We’re at 26% trade growth year-over-year [from 2020 to 2021], combined imports and exports — that is a telltale sign that good things are coming, production is booming.”

The bridge expansion project is a joint U.S.-Mexico venture. The cost of the U.S. side of the second span, which is being funded by the city, will be around $45 million and is 1.5 miles long. It will connect with another 1.5-mile portion of the bridge that Mexico is building at roughly the same cost south of the border.

In conjunction with the existing bridge at Pharr, the second bridge will create the Rio Grande Valley’s largest international cargo crossing with Mexico once completed. Land has already been cleared and Pharr officials are ready to begin construction once all hurdles have been cleared. No timetable has been set yet.The bridge expansion project is a joint U.S.-Mexico venture. The cost of the U.S. side of the second span, which is being funded by the city, will be around $45 million and is 1.5 miles long. It will connect with another 1.5-mile portion of the bridge that Mexico is building at roughly the same cost south of the border.

I have to smile when I bump into a tale like this. Traffic management, logistics, is how I earned my living for a few decades and more. I really enjoyed the work. A core component in the economics of a region, an industry, a critical category within commerce.

The problems of rapid economic growth that turn a small town like Pharr into a boomtown – are good problems. Doesn’t always make them easy to resolve.

NEWSWEEK R&D Team of the Year = Hyundai Motor Group

Hyundai Motor Group’s engineering team developed the company’s new Electric Global Modular Platform (E-GMP), which underpins a new generation of vehicles aimed at democratizing an electrified future. It earns its creators Newsweek’s Auto Disruptors Research and Development Team of the Year Award…

“Over the past few years, humanity has gone through major changes,” Fayez Abdul Rahman, senior vice president of Hyundai’s Vehicle Architecture Development Center, tells Newsweek. “As a result, having mobility that provides a smart living space where we can safely and comfortably spend time has become more highly valued.” That includes features like a movable console and vehicle-to-load charging, which allows the car to provide electricity for other devices for uses like car camping and remote office work…

According to Rahman, E-GMP has also improved vehicle dynamics. “We took advantage of the EV’s structure to enable more stable and comfortable driving by lowering the center of gravity,” Rahman says.

Going forward, Hyundai expects the E-GMP platform to be used in 23 battery-electric vehicles by 2025 ranging across the Kia, Hyundai and Genesis branded lineups. Currently, the Kia EV6 and Hyundai Ioniq 5 ride on the architecture. Vehicles built on the platform will be capable of getting up to 310 miles of all-electric range.

Plenty of standalone articles online about the individuals guiding this project inside Hyundai. Next to nothing about the technology solutions. That will appear in coming months as Hyundai begins the rollout of their new technology. I just wanted to give y’all an early peek at what’s coming. This sort of platform standardization helps reduce costs (and hopefully price at the dealership). A lot easier with EV platforms.

Texas Commissioner calls on Abbott to end border inspections


Elias Valverde II
Yes – that’s Sid Miller in the photograph

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller pressed the governor on Tuesday to end a new inspection policy that is snarling traffic at the border and “turning a crisis into a catastrophe.”

In a strongly worded statement, Miller warned Gov. Greg Abbott that commercial vehicles are being forced to wait up to 12 hours to enter Texas from Mexico because of the stepped-up state inspections. As a result, Miller said, produce is rotting in idling trucks and ultimately, prices could spike for consumers.

“This is not solving the border problem, it is increasing the cost of food and adding to supply chain shortages,” said Miller, a two-term Republican who is up for reelection this year. “Such a misguided program is going to quickly lead to $2.00 lemons, $5.00 avocados and worse.”

This may surprise you; but, there is a possibility Texas voters just might lay blame for this mess at the feet of the neo-fascist bigot sitting in the governor’s office.